There was more, much more, on the "pop up" or "flat pack" Olympics (see blog 28 May), which is indeed inspirational stuff, although there is clearly some nervousness about it all coming together in time "it can all feel a little 'lastminute.com' which I guess is inevitable if you're hiring a lot of kit".
He was also rather blunt about some of the vagaries of the sponsorship deals "If you've got a ticket for the North Greenwich Arena go to the O2" (apparently they can't refer to it as the O2 because of British Telecom's sponsorship deal); and I took away the thought that the future for corporate sponsorship of such events, in this age of social media and guerrilla marketing, is not really that rosy. It was charming really. Charming and disarming.
And then a free-flowing debate among the panel which had been ambitiously billed prior as the "tactics for the property world during the Olympics, transport infrastructure, staffing in companies and the impact on London's wider market". Somewhat wide-ranging perhaps, but amazingly we seemed to touch most of the bases.
Vernon Everitt of TfL (also somewhat candid) stated "This city is going to be rammed. Central London will be turned into one massive sporting and cultural arena" and in an upbeat account said that Londoners were actively planning for the pressure on the transport infrastructure, with many reforming their behaviour for the duration.
Dan Labbad went further and said that he thought it would have a "major transformational effect" on the way Londoners lived and worked for the future (and with 80bn hours spent annually travelling to and from work in the UK, commuting really has to be the biggest mug's game going). And on regeneration: apparently 75p in every £1 spent on the Olympics is on the regeneration and legacy aspects. It was only slightly unfortunate that the screen behind the panel carried the message "Windows are not genuine" throughout the discussion. But I don't think anyone noticed, or drew any inference as to the veracity of the contributions.
I had a lovely chat with Dan Labbad just before the event kicked off. I hadn't seen him since his appointment as chief operating officer of Lend Lease worldwide, so of course I roundly congratulated him on this great new opportunity. Dan is clearly looking forward to the challenge, but with mixed feelings about returning to his native Oz, although he says he'll be back for three months out of 12 to oversee the UK operation. After all, he's lived here for seven years so now he's an honorary Brit really (despite Liz Peace accusing him of being a "grumpy" Sydney-sider). And there is no doubt that the somewhat eccentric British property §establishment have taken Dan-Dan-the-Labbad-Man firmly to their bosom.
Dan will always have a very special place in the UKR story, of course, as it was at a lunch hosted by Dan that I'd first chatted up/ambushed Brendan Jarvis of Barclays and got into tow with him to develop the funding packages for the UKR private sector regeneration vehicle I am trying to get away in Nottingham and elsewhere. I asked him what was the best thing about his sojourn here and he said "I've learnt to speak English" which, I think you'll agree, was an utterly delightful response. And he clearly meant it.
But he also ruefully confessed that they've only just finished their house in Hackney (unlike many, he is a true convert to the East End, our Dan). You know, it just is not right. Poor Mrs Labbad has had to put up with the builders round there for a whole year (and you know what a living hell that is!) and just as she's got it how she wants it, it's up-sticks and back to Sydney. She must love him very much is all I can say.
And we will certainly miss him.